“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1942 / Director: Fred Zinnemann / Actors: Edward Arnold, Ann Harding, Donna Reed, Stephen McNally, Katherine Emery ... / DVD released 2003-02-18 at Alpha Video / Features of the DVD: Black & White, DVD-Video, NTSC „
RELEASED: 1942, Cert. Uncertified
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 79 mins
DIRECTOR: Fred Zinnemann
PRODUCER: Jack Chertok
SCREENPLAY: Guy Trosper & Howard Emmett Rogers
MUSIC: Lennie Hayton
Edward Arnold as Duncan MacLain
Ann Harding as Norma Lawry
Donna Reed as Barbara Lawry
Rosemary DeCamp as Vera Hoffman
Stephen McNally as Gabriel Hoffman
Stanley Ridges as Hansen
Stephen McNally as Gabriel Hoffman
Mantan Moreland as Alistair (Duncan's servant)
Friday as Friday
Allen Jenkins as Marty
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Duncan MacLain, who is blind, works as a private detective, ably assisted by his judo skills, his sidekick Marty and his German Shepherd guide dog, Friday.
Duncan's friend Norma Lawry is very worried about Barbara, her step-daughter, who has become involved with a greaseball actor who Norma had herself once had a relationship with. Despite Norma's gentle attempts at trying to warn Barbara away from her new romantic conquest, the young girl treats her (Norma) with attitude-ish disdain....so, Norma calls upon Duncan for his help in trying to dissolve the relationship.
When Duncan discovers that Barbara's lover has been murdered, yet with no immediate sign of a body, he manages to skilfully uncover some dastardly goings-on.
Eyes In The Night was filmed in black and white, with the quality of acting good, but very much from its own era. Almost immediately and before the action began, I was drawn into it as I found the character of Duncan very appealing and was fascinated by the way he coped with his day to day life, not being able to see.
The overall cast members do act their parts well, but as said above, it is very much in early 1940s style, and that may not appeal to everybody. However, I'm usually pretty good at managing to lift myself out of my own era and plunge myself into another, at least when it comes to watching films.
For the most part, the storyline is very simple to understand, although I did get a little confused once all the subterfuge began to rise to the surface. A missing link happened somewhere, but it didn't really affect my enjoyment of the film because I was concentrating on the characters, a couple of who I found both amusing and compelling.
Despite the basic story being serious, Eyes In The Night does have a touch of humour lacing around the edges, and the character who amused me most was Mantan Moreland as Alistair, Duncan's cheeky servant and domestic right-hand man.
I must hand a shiny accolade though to Friday, Duncan's guide dog, who for me overall stole the show. This dog was so very, very well-trained and although I can imagine the film crew bribing his compliance with perhaps huge and tasty chunks of fillet steak or similar being temptingly dangled under his nose, I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever before seen an animal play such a fascinatingly active and skilful part in a film. It is true that towards the end, Friday's canine brilliance did overstep the mark of what any dog would be capable of, but I nonetheless found this pooch thoroughly endearing.
One clever thing about Eyes In The Night, is how Duncan's lack of sight enabled him to rely on his other senses in a way that the rest of us wouldn't even start to think of, hence being able to work on detecting and solving a crime using skills that perhaps may threaten and possibly override today's highly sophisticated techniques.
Eyes In The Night is a film which jogs along gently, being just the right length and definitely is interesting from start to finish, as well as containing a light touch of amusement here and there. I was surprised to find myself becoming totally absorbed, due to initial hesitation over whether I'd be able to lie comfortably with a style of filming from the early 1940s....but, I needn't have worried, as I was thoroughly entertained.
This definitely is a film for fans of and those who can appreciate old black and white movies from an era long, long ago, but I should press the point that it is interesting with quite good acting. The music is typical of its era, but was only present during the first part of the film, so it didn't overtake everything in the way that can sometimes happen in these very old movies.
If you have a penchant for a good, old black and white film which is peppered with some wry humour, you may well like Eyes In The Night....and, it is a must for all animal lovers who would marvel at Friday the dog's antics. As the film stands, it doesn't appear to have been given a censorship rating, but if I were given the job of providing one, I'd give it a PG I think, as there is a little violence in it which although is portrayed in a far less graphic way than what we have become used to with the passage of time, it is still very present.
I loved it....so might you?
At the time of writing, Eyes In The Night can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.00 to £13.16
Used: from £42.77 to £89.31 (eh??)
Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Eyes In The Night is a B Movie murder mystery made in 1942 that, while being very similar in many ways to all its contemporaries also manages to be very very different in one signature way.
Norma is having trouble with her stepdaughter Barbara. Barbara is dating a much older man, one that Norma knows is no good because she had had an affair with him in the past herself. She tries desperately to stop Barbara from seeing the man, Paul Gerente, so when he turns up dead Barbara's first thought is that her jealous mother is the killer.
Luckily for Norma she is good friends with a detective called McClain. McClain understands the predicament that Norma has been put in and makes her a promise that he will do what he can to stop the circumstantial evidence that is piling up against her from putting her in prison, and save her from the electric chair.
Eyes in the night is a wartime mystery and as such is has a convoluted plot involving Nazis, spies, dastardly plans and nasty evil thugs. It is a clever plot though as it leads you along for a while before you realise exactly what is going on. It twists and turns its way through the deep and dark side streets of the city, giving you possible perpetrators by the handful as the investigation progresses.
While the overall movie is quite enjoyable, and would have been perfectly acceptable viewing on its own what raises it a to a must see movie is the little 'twist'.
McClain is blind and gets about using a guide dog and a stick. This one fact changes everything about the movie and its story. McClain needs his dog to get about and his comedy assistant
(a standard for 90% of the B movie series detectives of the era) is actually needed for a change. For example the assistant is there to describe everything at the murder scene when McClain visits it.
As the comedy sidekicks, while fun occasionally, are normally just annoying and a waste of space it is great to see one that has a purpose in the story. McClain needs him, he needs his help to do things that he cannot and not just to be the normal sounding board and plot explainer.
When McClain visits the original murder location he uses his brain power to ask for a VERY detailed description of the room and use the answers to work out what could have happened there. This whole take on the Detective movie genre is so fresh and novel that it is a real breath of fresh air.
A lot of these old murder mysteries run along a similar pattern and the main characters could easily be interchanged with each other with ease. In this case the whole script has to be tailored specifically to McClain. His blindness, which doesn't dominate the script, and his guide dog are new facets that can be used to push a scene, and the other characters, in a completely different direction.
For example a fight scene is a fairly standard thing in this genre of movie but there is one in Eyes that shows that the director and/or writer had a touch of genius about them. McClain manages to even the odds in a bout of fisticuffs in a truly novel, and at the same time hilarious, way.
If having a blind detective wasn't enough though McClains dog is much more than a guide dog. He is an Alsatian version of Lassie who can follow pretty much every command, even ones that cannot possibly be trained. He is also far far smarter than McClains assistant (who oddly enough was also The Falcon's assistant in some of that series) and his poor put upon butler (who also appeared in a number of the Charlie Chan series of films). The poor butler is even outsmarted by the intelligent dog whenever he tries to get some time off... the poor guy!
This is a dog that is capable of doing almost anything, how McClain would cope with just a normal guide dog I just don't know!
Eyes In The Night is an unknown gem of a movie. Thrilling and mysterious with touches of comedy it takes on the bigger A movies and beats some of them at their own game.
It has a witty script barked out by quality actors, including a young Donna Reed as Barbara, and is worth seeing not only because of the unusual main character but also because the story is actually quite enjoyable as well.
Purchasable from the world of Amazon sellers for only £2.64 at this time of writing